KCETLink Media Group and PBS SoCal (KOCE), the flagship PBS organization for Southern California, announced a merger agreement Wednesday.

“The merger of equals creates a center for public media innovation and creativity that serves the more than 18 million people living in the Southern California region,” the two organizations said in a statement. “The name of the new organization will be announced with the closing of the merger, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018.”

The statement said that by establishing a powerful PBS flagship organization on the West Coast, the two institutions are creating the opportunity to produce more original programs for multiple channels and platforms to address diverse communities in Southern California and the nation.

KCET Board of Directors Chairman Dick Cook will serve as Board Chair, and PBS SoCal President and CEO Andrew Russell will be President and CEO of the new entity, which will be governed by a 32-person Board of Trustees composed of the 14 members from each of the boards of KCETLink and PBS SoCal, as well as four new Board appointees, according to the statement.

“Fifty years ago, a surge of innovation and inspiration created public television as we know it today,” said Cook and Jim McCluney, Chairman of the PBS SoCal Board of Trustees, in a joint statement. “In this dynamic time for media, this is exactly the right moment to marry the complementary core strengths of each of our organizations. Our new company combines PBS SoCal’s beloved quality programming and community engagement excellence with KCETLink’s passion for creating smart, original content that captures the spirit of the region.”

The new organization will continue to operate from KCET’s and PBS SoCal’s existing Southern California locations in Burbank, Costa Mesa and Los Angeles. There will be no immediate changes to broadcast operations or program schedules on any of the stations’ channels during the merger transition period. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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